In 1993 I randomly got a call from the Omega Institute offering me a position as a member of the seasonal staff – working in the dining room, on the buffet line and washing dishes. There was a $50 a week stipend. I thought it was a joke. There was a level of grandiosity about me – I had owned restaurants and worked with the Miami Dolphins. But I ended up spending over two hours on the phone with the man from Omega. He persuaded me to come and check it out. I felt right about going and knew I could always leave...
I went and that’s when I began to wake up with spiritual awareness. The Omega Institute is the largest holistic center in the world. It’s associated with Deepak Chopra and Eckhart Tolle and other incredible people. I was exposed to ‘thinkers.’ I worked in the kitchen and did meditation and yoga. It was the best summer of my adult life.
When the summer ended I went back to Chicago but wasn’t sure about what I should do. I took art classes to fill the time. I rolled through the winter and when the summer came I decided to go back to Omega.
In the middle of starting my spiritual journey – I had just been certified as a yoga teacher – I took a blood test and was diagnosed with Hepatitis C. Rather than being a curse, Hepatitis C became an opportunity for me to step into all the things I had been exposed to – the nutrition and wellness and meditation – basically, how I would creatively deal with the beast.
I worked with a series of different practitioners: an MD in Ghent, New York... the complimentary medicine and liver center at Columbia Presbyterian…and many others. But with each doctor I spoke to I expressed a desire in going with alternative medicines. The western medical practitioners wanted to do interferon treatment, but I knew enough from my experience with Glen that it destroys the human immune system. Intuitively I felt it didn’t make any sense to me. I wanted to build my immune system, not tear it down.
I began to look at vitamins and alternative methods as part of the healing protocol. I connected with a man named Doctor Chang and worked for a year doing Chinese herbs and acupuncture and ultraviolet heat. The enzyme levels in my liver started to go down.
I researched Ayurvedic medicine and ended up going to Rishikesh, India to work with an Ayurvedic physician. He saw the initial test results and said, “You can beat this.” I took strong herbs that came from the Himalayas. I became vegetarian, then vegan. I stopped smoking. After three months in Rishikesh the Hepatitis C enzymes in my liver were traceless.
When I returned to the United States I was healed and at peace. I changed my name from John to Shivanter and built a wellness center in Nosara, Costa Rica where I create cleanses and transform lives through food and nutrition. I help people heal themselves. I make a living and make a difference. The center was destroyed by an earthquake a few years ago but we rebuilt it.
It was interesting to go through this process (the Goose Chronicles interview). It brought up a lot of stuff that I had really put to rest. I live in such a different way now it’s almost like I’m talking about an entirely different person, an entirely different life. But all these pieces are part of my story and everything that happens in life is perfectly designed to happen.
At this point I’m grateful for everything that happened to me. It’s amazing to feel blessed for the life I’ve had. I haven’t always been in that place, but I’m there now. I wasted a lot of energy doing things that made me miserable but now I’m at peace. I have a relationship with myself that’s loving, caring and supportive – sometimes I wobble, but I always recover.
Goose Chronicles Outtakes:
“What happened with your father?”
“My father struggled with diabetes his whole life. When he was older we were able to sit in each other’s presence without the enraged dynamic that had been prevalent for so many years. I was with him when he died. I sat by his bed stroking his hair and letting him know it was okay to let go. I was no longer mad at how he treated me when I was a child or after I told him I was gay. I saw him as a sick old man from a place of compassion and love. I’m grateful we had that experience together. At that point our relationship was what it was. There was no changing it. It was time to heal and transition. We’re all in the human condition just trying to do the best we can.”
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